Further proof that I am getting old, when the Last Night of the Proms comes round earlier and earlier. I didn’t even manage to get to a single Prom this year. I didn’t even notice they were on. Where did the summer go?
Instead of watching the usual events on TV, I listened, instead, to BBC Radio Ulster. This was because Brian Finnegan, of whom I am a huge fan, was playing at Proms in the Park at Hillsborough Castle. Brian is a fabulous musician who plays an eclectic style of Irish Trad along with new fusions of World Music. His style is hard to define, and when asked on the programme to talk about Flook, the band he started and which recently folded, he described them as being not Irish Trad, and therefore able to cross boundaries, which a purely Tradition Irish band would not have been able to do.
So here are some links, for the curious, who want to hear what this Finnegan guy is all about.
This clip has two numbers from Brian’s recent album, The Ravishing Genius of Bones. Apparently the title of the album comes from a line of poetry written by Brian’s sister.
If that is too modern for you, try Night Ride to Armagh, here
There are plenty more on YouTube, but I need to get to the point of the title of this post.
Back to the Last Night of the Proms where, after all the usual stuff, the conductor did the clever trick, only possible in these days of simultaneous broadcasting, where he got the various crowds all over these isles, to sing together. The song he chose this year, and I believe this is a first on the Proms, was You’ll Never Walk Alone, from Carousel. What an inspired choice!
There are always problems with Jerusalem (lovely though it is) because it is too Anglo-centric. Land of Hope and Glory is scarcely better, with its implication that our nation is better than all the rest and that we should extend our power across the whole world. But this anthem, borrowed by Liverpool football fans, was reclaimed by people from all four corners of the British Isles last night. As they sang together (I use the term loosely, as the delay in transmission meant it was not a seamless join) I felt more uplifted than I am usually by the Last Night singing. Here were people from all walks of life, with different musical backgrounds, and different perspectives, all united in a song in which hope triumphs over all disasters.
This is not a song that the football fans can keep to themselves. It is now our song, the song of all of those who love music, and who want to look beyond nationalistic rivalries. Brian was so right, when he said that by not being and Irish band, Flook were able to work across boundaries. Music is the one language that we can all speak. Music has the power to communicate ideas that go beyond words. Music can unite everyone, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Jew. And, thanks to the wonders of YouTube, you can share this wonderful experience.